Eurofighter Typhoon

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter. The Typhoon was designed and is manufactured by a consortium of three companies; Alenia Aermacchi, Airbus Group and BAE Systems, who conduct the majority of affairs dealing with the project through a joint holding company, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, which was formed in 1986. The project is managed by the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency, which also acts as the prime customer.

Development of the aircraft effectively began in 1983 with the Future European Fighter Aircraft programme, a multinational collaborative effort between the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Because of disagreements over design authority and operational requirements, France left the consortium to develop the Dassault Rafale independently instead. A technology demonstration aircraft, the British Aerospace EAP, first took flight on 6 August 1986; the first prototype of the finalised Eurofighter made its first flight on 27 March 1994. The name of the aircraft, Typhoon, was formally adopted in September 1998; the first production contracts were signed that same year.

Political issues in the partner nations significantly protracted the Typhoon's development; the sudden end of the Cold War reduced European demand for fighter aircraft, and there was debate over the cost and work share of the Eurofighter. The Typhoon was introduced into operational service in 2003. Currently, the type has entered service with the Austrian Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the German Air Force, the Royal Air Force, the Spanish Air Force, and the Royal Saudi Air Force. The Royal Air Force of Oman has also been confirmed as an export customer, bringing the procurement total to 571 aircraft as of 2013.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a highly agile aircraft, designed to be an effective dogfighter when in combat with other aircraft; later production aircraft have been increasingly better equipped to undertake air-to-surface strike missions and to be compatible with a likewise increasing number of different armaments and equipment. The Typhoon saw its combat debut during the 2011 military intervention in Libya with the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force, performing aerial reconnaissance and ground strike missions. The type has also taken primary responsibility for air-defence duties for the majority of customer nations.

Eurofighter Typhoon
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Eurofighter GmbH
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1994
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Germany View
Italy View
Spain View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1994 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Eurofighter GmbH 1994 427 View

The UK had identified a requirement for a new fighter as early as 1971. The AST 403 specification, issued by the Air staff in 1972, resulted in the P.96 conventional "tailed" design, which was presented in the late 1970s. While the design would have met the Air Staff's requirements, the UK air industry had reservations as it appeared to be very similar to the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, which was then well advanced in its development. The P.96 design had little potential for future growth, and when it entered production it would secure few exports in a market in which the Hornet would be well established. However, the simultaneous West German requirement for a new fighter had led by 1979 to the development of the TKF-90 concept. This was a cranked delta wing design with forward close-coupled-canard controls and artificial stability. Although the British Aerospace designers rejected some of its advanced features such as engine vectoring nozzles and vented trailing edge controls, a form of boundary layer control, they agreed with the overall configuration.

In 1979, Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) and British Aerospace (BAe) presented a formal proposal to their respective governments for the ECF, the European Collaborative Fighter or European Combat Fighter. In October 1979 Dassault joined the ECF team for a tri-national study, which became known as the European Combat Aircraft. It was at this stage of development that the Eurofighter name was first attached to the aircraft. The development of different national prototypes continued. France produced the ACX. The UK produced two designs; the P.106 was a single-engined "lightweight" fighter, superficially resembling the JAS 39 Gripen, the P.110 was a twin-engined fighter. The P.106 concept was rejected by the RAF, on the grounds that it had "half the effectiveness of the two-engined aircraft at two-thirds of the cost". West Germany continued to refine the TKF-90 concept. The ECA project collapsed in 1981 for several reasons including differing requirements, Dassault's insistence on "design leadership" and the British preference for a new version of the RB199 to power the aircraft versus the French preference for the new Snecma M88.

Consequently, the Panavia partners (MBB, BAe and Aeritalia) launched the Agile Combat Aircraft (ACA) programme in April 1982. The ACA was very similar to the BAe P.110, having a cranked delta wing, canards and a twin tail. One major external difference was the replacement of the side-mounted engine intakes with a chin intake. The ACA was to be powered by a modified version of the RB199. The German and Italian governments withdrew funding, and the UK Ministry of Defence agreed to fund 50% of the cost with the remaining 50% to be provided by industry. MBB and Aeritalia signed up with the aim of producing two aircraft, one at Warton and one by MBB. In May 1983, BAe announced a contract with the MoD for the development and production of an ACA demonstrator, the Experimental Aircraft Programme.

In 1983, Italy, Germany, France, the UK and Spain launched the "Future European Fighter Aircraft" (FEFA) programme. The aircraft was to have short take off and landing (STOL) and beyond visual range (BVR) capabilities. In 1984 France reiterated its requirement for a carrier-capable version and demanded a leading role. Italy, West Germany and the UK opted out and established a new EFA programme. In Turin on 2 August 1985, West Germany, the UK and Italy agreed to go ahead with the Eurofighter; and confirmed that France, along with Spain, had chosen not to proceed as a member of the project. Despite pressure from France, Spain rejoined the Eurofighter project in early September 1985. France officially withdrew from the project to pursue its own ACX project, which was to become the Dassault Rafale.

By 1986 the cost of the programme had reached £180 million. When the EAP programme had started, the cost was supposed to be equally shared by both government and industry, but the West German and Italian governments wavered on the agreement and the three main industrial partners had to provide £100 million to keep the programme from ending. In April 1986, the BAe EAP was rolled out at BAe Warton, by this time also partially funded by MBB, BAe and Aeritalia. The EAP first flew on 6 August 1986. The Eurofighter bears a strong resemblance to the EAP. Design work continued over the next five years using data from the EAP. Initial requirements were: UK: 250 aircraft, Germany: 250, Italy: 165 and Spain: 100. The share of the production work was divided among the countries in proportion to their projected procurement – DASA (33%), British Aerospace (33%), Aeritalia (21%), and Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) (13%).

The Munich-based Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH was established in 1986 to manage development of the project and EuroJet Turbo GmbH, the alliance of Rolls-Royce, MTU Aero Engines, FiatAvio (now Avio) and ITP for development of the EJ200. The aircraft was known as Eurofighter EFA from the late 1980s until it was renamed EF 2000 in 1992.

By 1990, the selection of the aircraft's radar had become a major stumbling-block. The UK, Italy and Spain supported the Ferranti Defence Systems-led ECR-90, while Germany preferred the APG-65 based MSD2000 (a collaboration between Hughes, AEG and GEC-Marconi). An agreement was reached after UK Defence Secretary Tom King assured his West German counterpart Gerhard Stoltenberg that the British government would approve the project and allow the GEC subsidiary Marconi Electronic Systems to acquire Ferranti Defence Systems from its parent, the Ferranti Group, which was in financial and legal difficulties. GEC thus withdrew its support for the MSD2000.

On 4 August 2003, Germany accepted the first series production Eurofighter (GT003). Also that year, Spain took delivery of its first series production aircraft.

On 16 December 2005, the Typhoon reached initial operational capability (IOC) with the Italian Air Force. Its Typhoons were put into service as air defence fighters at the Grosseto Air Base, and immediately assigned to Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) at the same base.

On 9 August 2007, the UK's Ministry of Defence reported that No. 11 Squadron RAF of the RAF, which stood up as a Typhoon squadron on 29 March 2007, had taken delivery of its first two multi-role Typhoons. Two of 11 Squadron's Typhoons were sent to intercept a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 approaching British airspace on 17 August 2007. The RAF Typhoons were declared combat ready in the air-to-ground role by 1 July 2008. The RAF Typhoons were projected to be ready to deploy for operations by mid-2008.

On 11 September 2008, the combined flying time of the five customer Air Forces and the industrial Flight Test programme saw the aircraft pass the 50,000 flight hours milestone. On 31 March 2009, a Eurofighter Typhoon fired an AMRAAM whilst having its radar in passive mode for the first time; the necessary target data for the missile was acquired by the radar of a second Eurofighter Typhoon and transmitted using the Multi Functional Information Distribution System (MIDS). In January 2011, the entire Typhoon fleet passed the 100,000 flying hours mark. In September 2013, the worldwide Eurofighter fleet achieved over 200,000 flight hours. At the time, 378 aircraft had been delivered, with 571 on order.

Role Air superiority fighter, Multirole fighter
Manufacturer Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH
First flight 27 March 1994
Introduction 4 August 2003
Status In service
Primary users Royal Air Force
German Air Force
Italian Air Force
Spanish Air Force
See Operators below for others
Produced 1994–present
Number built 427 of January 2015
Unit cost €90 million (system cost Tranche 3A)
£125m (including development + production costs)
Developed from British Aerospace EAP
Variants Eurofighter Typhoon variants


General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 (operational aircraft) or 2 (training aircraft)
  • Length: 15.96 m (52.4 ft)
  • Wingspan: 10.95 m (35.9 ft)
  • Height: 5.28 m (17.3 ft)
  • Wing area: 51.2 m² (551 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 11,000 kg (24,250 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 16,000 kg (35,270 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 23,500 kg (51,800 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Eurojet EJ200 afterburning turbofan
  • Dry thrust: 60 kN (13,490 lbf) each
  • Thrust with afterburner: >90 kN (20,230 lbf) each
  • Fuel capacity: 5,000 kg (11,020 lb) internal

Performance

  • Maximum speed:
  • At altitude: Mach 2 class (2,495 km/h or 1,550 mph)
  • At sea level: Mach 1.25 (1,470 km/h or 910 mph)
  • Range: 2,900 km (1,800 mi)

Combat radius:

  • Ground attack, lo-lo-lo: 601 km (325 nmi)
  • Ground attack, hi-lo-hi: 1,389 km (750 nmi)
  • Air defence with 3-hr combat air patrol: 185 km (100 nmi)
  • Air defence with 10-min. loiter: 1,389 km (750 nmi)
  • Ferry range: >3,790 km (2,350 mi with 3 drop tanks)
  • Service ceiling: 16,765 m (55,003 ft) for up to 64,000–70,000 ft
  • Absolute ceiling: 19,812 m (65,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: >315 m/s (62,000 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 312 kg/m² (63.9 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.15 (interceptor configuration)
  • Maximum g-load: +9/-3 g
  • Brakes-off to Take-off acceleration: <8 sec
  • Brakes-off to supersonic acceleration: <30 s
  • Brakes-off to Mach 1.6 at 11,000 m (36,000 ft): <150 s

Armament

  • Guns: 1 × 27 mm Mauser BK-27 revolver cannon with 150 rounds
  • Hardpoints: Total of 13: 8 × under-wing; and 5 × under-fuselage pylon stations; holding up to 7,500 kg (16,500 lb) of payload
    Typical multi-role configuration for a Tranche 2-P1E would be 4×AMRAAM, 2×ASRAAM/IRIS-T, 4×EGBU-16/Paveway-IV, 2×1000-litre supersonic fuel tanks and a targeting pod.

Missiles:

Air-to-air missiles:

  • AIM-120 AMRAAM (AIM-120C-5/7 planned for P2E)
  • AIM-132 ASRAAM
  • AIM-9 Sidewinder
  • IRIS-T
  • MBDA Meteor

Air-to-surface missiles:

  • AGM-65 Maverick,
  • AGM-88 HARM,
  • Brimstone
  • Taurus KEPD 350
  • Storm Shadow/Scalp EG
  • SPEAR

Bombs:

  • Paveway II/III/Enhanced Paveway series of laser-guided bombs (LGBs)
  • 500lb Paveway IV
  • Small Diameter Bomb (planned for P2E)
  • Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), in the future
  • HOPE/HOSBO, in the future

Others:

  • Flares/infrared decoys dispenser pod
  • chaff pods
  • Electronic countermeasures (ECM) pods
  • Damocles (targeting pod) (ECM) pods
  • LITENING III laser targeting pod
  • Up to 3 drop tanks for ferry flight or extended range/loitering time

Avionics

  • Euroradar CAPTOR Radar
  • Passive Infra-Red Airborne Tracking Equipment (PIRATE)

End notes